ModelKing/MPC 1/25 Wild Bill Shrewsberry's L.A. Dart
Original MPC mold, Private
Production Limited release by Model King with new decals.
In Drag Racing circles (excuse the
pun please) wheel-standers seem to hold a certain fascination. Since Bill
‘Maverick’ Golden’s Little Red Wagon held its front wheels off the strip for a
full ¼ mile in 1965 there have been many built, amongst the most notable being
the Hurst Hemi Under Glass and ‘Wild’ Bill Shrewsberry’s LA Dart. For those not
aware of what the’re about a wheel-stander is an exhibition type drag car run
for the wow factor.
These are mostly a sedan body with a hugely powerful V8 installed in the boot
(sorry – trunk) designed to run the ¼ mile with their front wheels in the air.
The driver steers via separate brakes to each rear wheel, in a similar fashion
to a tracked vehicle. Forward vision is through a cutout in the floor. As with
most drag racing these are more spectacular at night when flames from the
headers and showers of sparks from spark bars add to the show.
These vehicles were in the mid
‘60s called ‘Funny Cars’ along with the first jet drag cars and the original
Funny Cars as we would think of them today. Wheel-standers had their most
popular era in the 1980s when large numbers allowed whole shows to be run.
Amongst the zany types were Fire Engines, a Stagecoach, Kenworths and even a
Bill Shrewsberry was in at the
beginning of the ‘standers having helped develop the original Hurst Hemi Under
Glass Plymouth Barracuda in 1965 before building his first L.A. Dart based on a
Dodge body with a supercharged Chrysler Hemi which pushed the 2 wheeling car to
over 100 mph. Shrewsberry used separate pedals for each of the rear brakes where
as Golden and others used levers. One of his party tricks being to spin the car
around at the end of the run, still with the front wheels up, and return to the
start line. He also on a number of runs stood up through the vacant windshield
(it seems the car was mostly, if not always, run without glass) and waved to the
crowd at over 100 mph until he was pulled aside by the head of the NHRA and told
to stop, no wonder they called him Wild!
In the early ‘70s Shrewsberry and
Dart were brought to
and ran at the now long gone Surfers
International Raceway. I was just a youngster then and well remember the car and
‘Wild’ Bill so when I discovered this kit on the shelf at Sherriffs Mini Cars, a
local car model specialist, I grabbed it. If MPC had had this on the shelves in
OZ when the man was here it would have been a sell-out.
King has had a limited run of this kit done along with a host of other drag and
speedway kits from the ‘60s and ‘70s, they do sell for a premium price however
but this seems to be well below what the original kits are going for on the
collectors market. Some of these kits have had newly designed decals whilst
others retain the originals, of course those in the original boxes are now many
decades old and quite possibly unusable.
Packaged in a very
sturdy box which contains a single piece body, 1 chrome sprue, 4 white sprues, 4
vinyl tires, 2 metal axles, 2 clear and 2 red parts with a total parts count of
71. Many of the chrome parts will need stripping as with most car kits.
Flash is present on a number of
parts in particular the seat and headers and there are a few sink marks as well
as ejection pin and mold lines, not unexpected for a mold getting onto 4 decades
Molded detail is
lacking overall but standard for the time. The interior is reasonable with a
full rollcage, tub with details on the sidewalls, drivers seat with molded on
belts but no sign of the brake pedals for each rear wheel. The rollcage seems
too thick for the scale. Instrument cluster is one of the plated parts and you’d
definitely want to remove the chrome from the dial faces at the least. The
engine, which accounts for 18 parts, would be enhanced greatly by wiring and
plumbing and detail added to the supercharger belt, The headers are parts that
will need some attention to remove flash and drill out the ends.
The instruction sheet
seems to be the original MPC with the addition of a
2007 to Learning Curve and Trademark notices. The only painting instructions are
regarding the stripes on the body, that’s right no painting details for any of
the parts so reference needs to be made to the box top, side and photos.
Model King have
provided a new decal sheet and this has the red stripes and it appears all
sponsor markings, making a much easier job than the original issue. These are
printed gloss and in good register including L.A.Dart in metallic gold. Each
will need close cutting. No placement guide is given so reference to the box top
and other pics will again be needed especially for the ones that go under the
car. The decals were designed by Sean Svendsen and he has a website where you
can see more of his work and get an inside view to what goes into a decal sheet
and the thinking behind some of his box top designs.
Via an email Sean advised me that a separate run of the decal sheet
was produced after the kits release with the metallic gold replaced by gold foil
as on Shrewsberry’s actual car. Shrewsberry himself helped with getting the
details on the kits sheet correct. This later sheet is available for separate
sale on some Internet sites, so if your lucky enough to have an original boxing
you wish to build keep that in mind.
It’s great to see this kit
re-released even in limited numbers, as it came out a few years ago it’s
probably getting harder to find now so if it takes your interest best grab one
when you see it.
Sean Svendsen website:
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